SURFACES REPORTER is India's 1st and only Architecture and Interior Design magazine dedicated to products and materials.
 

Are you underutilising your HVAC system? See what might be wrong.

Despite being a vital component in the modern building design, very little attention is provided to the HVAC system. Taking cognizance of the fact, Surfaces Reporter did an in-depth study upon the subject and found out there are a lot of misconception around how to get the best out of HVAC systems.

Despite being a vital component in the modern building design, very little attention is provided to the HVAC system. Taking cognizance of the fact, Surfaces Reporter did an in-depth study upon the subject and found out there are a lot of misconception around how to get the best out of HVAC systems. Vineesh T V, Technical Manager at Cadpoint Engineering Solutions, Chennai broke the 10 myths surrounding HVAC systems.

MYTH 1: The best way to deal with uncomfortably hot rooms is sticking an air conditioner in the window.

Fact: It's always best to treat the source of the problem vs. the symptom. Improper airflow is one of the biggest culprits. The way your HVAC system distributes conditioned air through your duct system is another major impact. Also, with professional weatherization you can often address the source of the discomfort without using energy draining air conditioners. Weatherization cannot only keep rooms warmer in the winter, but also keep them cooler in the summer.

MYTH 2: Buying an energy efficient furnace or air-conditioner will automatically reduce my energy bill. 

Fact: Not necessarily true. Even the highest efficiency rated heaters and air conditioners can cost you more money to operate if they are improperly sized or installed. According to the Department of Energy, shoddy installation and improper sized equipment can waste as much as one-third of your energy consumption. Also, you cannot realize all the possible savings if the equipment is not sized or installed properly. Studies have shown that typical air conditioner and duct systems are improperly installed, wasting 1/3 or more of the energy used by the air conditioner. New and replacement equipment (and ducts) need to be properly designed and installed to realize all the possible savings.

MYTH 3: A humidifier is the best way to keep my home comfortable during a dry winter.

Fact: Air leakage is the most common cause of excessive dryness. When cold air enters the house and is heated, the relative humidity is significantly reduced. Air sealing can help keep your home at a comfortable humidity level, without the need for a humidifier.

Energy efficiency means getting a job done with less energy. Energy conservation, on the other hand, means reducing the level of services, e.g. reducing comfort (of course who wants that). Consumers CAN improve energy efficiency without lowering the quality of life.

MYTH 4: It’s easy to tell where my home is losing energy.

Fact: Many homeowners think the biggest air leaks are around windows and doors. While these leaks can be significant, most air leaks are hidden from view, passing through floors and ceilings, around chimneys, pipes, ductwork, etc. With today's technology, you can pinpoint where you're losing heat in winter or cooling in summer; and then fix it.

MYTH 5: Energy efficiency and energy conservation mean the same.

Fact: Energy efficiency means getting a job done with less energy. Energy conservation, on the other hand, means reducing the level of services, e.g. reducing comfort (of course who wants that). Consumers CAN improve energy efficiency without lowering the quality of life. Think of it this way: Conservation - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable, maybe saves 3 - 5%. Energy Efficient Improvements - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable, Saves 30-70%.

MYTH 6: Making my house 'too' airtight is dangerous; houses have to breathe.

Fact: While houses do need fresh air, most homes have more air leaks than necessary. Even worse, incoming air usually enters homes through basements, garages and crawl spaces, which can compromise air quality. Controlling the flow of air in your home can save energy and improve air quality. The true secret to optimum energy efficiency is to make the structure as airtight as possible while keeping the air quality very pure.

Jacking your thermostat temperature up to 25 degrees doesn’t make your house warm up faster. Similarly, an A/C setting of 10 degrees cools the house no faster than a setting of 22 degrees. Extreme settings only cause your system to heat or cool too much, wasting energy.

MYTH 7: The shorter my HVAC system runs, the more I will save on my energy bill.

Fact: HVAC Systems use more energy in the first three to five minutes of start-up time than in the next 25 minutes of continuous running. In the heat of the summer, if your A/C system is turning on and off four to five times per hour means it is not operating efficiently. Instead, the system should run continuously for 40 to 50 minutes out of every hour to maintain consistent room temperatures and achieve more comfortable humidity levels. Running for longer periods of time allows the HVAC to remove the excess humidity that is put into the home. If this occurs with your furnace, you end up drying out your house to the point that interior caulking will actually crack and peel.

MYTH 8: My air filter needs changing only before the change of seasons.

Fact: The air filter is to be changed not with season but on a regular interval depending in your filter quality. Typically, if you use the less expensive one-inch filters, you’ll need to change them monthly. If you have a newer system with, say, 4-inch specialty filters, you may find that those need to be changed every 6 months!

MYTH 9: Expensive air filters are much better than less expensive air filters.

Fact: While it’s true that you get what you pay for, we have found that sometimes expensive high end filters are not the best buy for homeowners. The reason has to do with air flow. Some high end air filters on the market, while excellent at filtering dirty air can also inhibit air flow through your home making them extremely restrictive. Another tip to keep in mind is this: if your system was installed properly by a reputable company, there’s a good chance that the technician installed the system with a specific filter in mind – a filter that will work optimally with your specific system. Often, we don’t know the differences from one air filter to the next and mix them up. This is not recommended and you could be causing damage to your system. Before experimenting, call a technician and work on his recommendation for your system. Chances are you’ll get longer life span of your system and save money in the long and short term.

MYTH 10: Extreme thermostat settings make the HVAC system work faster.

Fact: It’s among the most widespread myths about electricity, but this one is completely wrong. Jacking your thermostat temperature up to 25 degrees doesn’t make your house warm up faster. Similarly, an A/C setting of 10 degrees cools the house no faster than a setting of 22 degrees. Extreme settings only cause your system to heat or cool too much, wasting energy.

(With inputs from expert at CADPOINT Engineering Solutions, a well established ITeS/CAD/CAM/CAE company in Kerala, providing services to Architects, Interior designer Civil engineer, & HVAC consultants for over 20 years now. )

About Surfaces Reporter

Surfaces Reporter is India’s 1st magazine specialized on “products & materials” for architecture & Interiors! The prime objective of Surfaces Reporter magazine is to contribute positively to the Indian material industry, with unbiased information & awareness initiatives.

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